PR Trends for 2013: Evolving Media & Social Business

Posted by on December 19, 2012

What’s on tap for PR in 2013?  The answers we received when we asked PR pros to complete the sentence “PR is _____”  provided a harbinger of what the industry can expect in the coming year.

PR Prepping for the New Year: A Look at the Evolution of Modern PR & What It Means for You from PR Newswire

The answers were myriad and varied:  Mind share. Cross-channel conversation.  Content that adds value for readers.  Creating understanding in a complex world.  Engaging dialogue.  A connection between a company and its publics.

And all the answers were correct and point to an emerging reality – PR is getting a lot “bigger.”    The scope of the job is greater, the audiences more vast, the information marketplace is more fluid and the integration with other departments more crucial.

To gain a better angle on the trends for 2013, it’s also important to consider the underlying drivers of trends.

Social Business:   There’s no question that changes in the media environment has had an effect not just on PR departments, but on entire organizations.     Social media has changed customer expectations and introduced an age of radical transparency.  Smart organizations have recalibrated their entire enterprise to connect with, communicate to and serve their customers and prospects.   So what do these changes mean for PR?  A lot, it turns out, from a tactical standpoint.

  • Collaboration & integration:  Silo-busting has taken on a new urgency – it’s crucial for different departments to collaborate in order to deliver a cohesive message strategy and experience for customers across channels.   Social media, inbound and outbound marketing and print buys, for example, all have to work together and make sense.    Print media often drives online behavior, and brands need to plan for (and capture) those actions.
  • Listening & response:  Today’s transparent marketplace puts new pressure on businesses to respond quickly to queries  and comments from their constituents.  This requires communications departments to spool up their social listening efforts, and calibrate their processes (such as review and approval) to speed response.

Evolving media markets:  Journalistic model evolution:  The underlying business models of traditional media continue to evolve – the fact that Newsweek is going all digital in 2013 was probably the most dramatic example from 2012.   What does this mean for PR?  As journalistic models change and go digital, chances are excellent that the folks creating content for digital entities will change how they measure success. Instead of news stand sales, for example, digital metrics, such as the number of times a story was read, shared and commented on – will take precedence.  But the digital environment wages war every second for reader attention .  How can an organization succeed?  By consistently publishing unique, useful and interesting content. Therein is the opportunity for PR pros.

  • Digital media does a great job of serving niche interests, and while the audiences may be smaller, they are enthusiastic and informed.  Find unique story angles to share with tightly focused digital media for maximum visibility to your core audiences.
  • Just because something isn’t “hard news” in the traditional sense doesn’t mean that it won’t be of interest to your audience.  Content that will help your constituents and addresses their pain points plays very well.  Find your internal experts who can offer tips, tactics and advice to your readers.

Mutable social networks:   As we build our communications plans and strategies, it’s important to remember that social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest have the right to change their service offerings, algorithms and terms of use – and they do.  For example, in November, Twitter ceased to render images from Instagram (owned by Facebook) within its news feed, in order to give images generated by using its own suite of photo filters more visibility to Twitter  users.   Organizations that had created rich content on Instagram, and used Twitter to share it to a wider audience, found themselves in a tight spot, as visibility for the images they distribute was reduced.   At the same time, Pinterest announced that (for the time being at least) they added support for Twitter cards, thus ensuring images shared via Twitter via Pinterest will render  on Twitter’s web site and apps.  Confuzzled?  You’re not alone, and there is no safeguard against these sort of changes, which can negatively impact the investment an organization has made in developing a strong presence on a particular network.  So what should communicators do?

  • Don’t become solely reliant upon a social network.   While social networks are incredibly useful for finding, connecting with and engaging audiences, at some point, the brand needs to develop a more direct relationship with audiences.   Encourage your social connections to participate in events, refer them to content on your own web site, and provide engagement options (live chat, comments, etc.) on your own web site to enable your audience to communicate directly with the brand, via channels the brand owns.

In subsequent posts, we’ll discuss trends in PR tactics and outcomes for 2013. Watch this space for more!   In the meantime, you can access an archive of a recent webinar titled PR Prepping for the New Year: A Look at the Evolution of Modern PR & What It Means for You discussing the evolution of PR and trends for 2013.  Panelists included:


Previously published December 19, 2012 on BeyondPR by author Sarah Skerik, PR Newswire’s VP of social media.